Colombia

Yulieth Mora
2017

Última palabra

Nunca había sentido tanto
tanto ruido
como antes de que dijeras
la última palabra.

Desde entonces, advierto como suena
el fuego antes que se encienda
la carne veloz a punto de golpear el agua
una palma en dirección a mi mejilla.

Aunque digan que el rayo
es más rápido que el trueno
desde esa vez
yo puedo sentir el ruido antes.

Ahora todo es un escándalo
una escalera deslizándose en el borde
un plato girando en el aire
el zapato listo para pisar las hojas secas.

Ayer por ejemplo todo se hizo antes
un cristal explotó sin que la bala lo cruzara
el aguacero desgranó con apenas ver la nube negra
brilló el fragor de lo que nunca te dije
y el chasquido del beso que estuvimos por darmos.

Nunca había sentido tanto
tanto ruido
dentro mío
como al presentir
tu última palabra.


Last Word

I had never felt this much
much noise
as I did before you said
the last word.

Since then, I notice the sound
of fire before it lights
the hasty flesh about to hit the water
a palm approaching my cheek.

Though they say that lightning
is faster than thunder
since it happened
I can feel the noise first.

Now everything is scandalous
a ladder sliding on the edge
a plate spinning in the air
the shoe willing to step on dry leaves.

For instance, yesterday everything came before
the crystal burst before the bullet hit
a look at the black cloud gushed the pouring rain
the roar of what I never told you shone
along with the snap of a soon-to-be kiss.

I had never felt this much
much noise
inside
as when I sensed
your last word.


Yulieth Mora is a journalist and writer born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1992. She belongs to one of the most recent generations of graduates from the program in Creative Writing of Universidad Central, in Bogotá, and her short story “Perro negro” (“Black Dog”) recently received an honorable mention by the Colombian Ministry of Culture. Her poem “Última palabra” (“Last Word”) proposes an imagery of sound, silence, time, and asynchrony: a last word that is said; the infinite words that, by definition, are not said after that last word; and the subsequent product of silence: the asynchrony between image, time, and sound that occurs thereafter.

One of the most conspicuous challenges in the translation of this poem is the repetition of words in the first stanza, which, itself, is a repeated stanza within the poem. The Spanish word “tanto” is a comparative adjective that does not have a single-word equivalent in English. In English, “tanto” must be translated as two words, either as an adjective or an adverb, depending on whether it refers to a time period or the quantity of something. The resonance of the first and last stanzas in the poem -one about sound, precisely- lies heavily on the repetition of this sole word, whose exact translation in English, in this case, would be “so much”. Given the difficulty of maintaining the original poem’s light sonorous effect (tanto / tanto ruido) with the repetition of a two-word clause in English (“so much / so much noise”), I opted for the adverbial sense of the word “this.” Though it adds a deictic nuance that is not originally found, this sense of the word is normally used in negative sentences, and so appropriately fits a stanza about the denial of words and future silence.

Prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López

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